Yet Another Example of why the NCAA is Insane

There’s one subject that riles me more than any other. It’s not Melo, Kobe, Westbrook or even Allen Iverson. No, it’s the ridiculous nature of the NCAA. Jeff Eisenberg at Yahoo Sports just posted the following: UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad ruled ineligible by the NCAA

First, the exact reasons are a bit vague. From USA Today

The NCAA has ruled Muhammad ineligible for the time being for allegedly accepting improper benefits, writing in a statement he “accepted travel and lodging during three unofficial visits” to two colleges during his recruitment.

And looking into this more, it appears the schools that violated this were not UCLA

There is so much confusing here. Now, I get that there are rules set by the NCAA, but does the phrase unofficial visit make any sense? Microsoft once paid a friend of mine to go to Seattle, stay there and interview (he didn’t get the job sadly) This is a very common practice. It turns out that traveling to interview is difficult. And Shabazz was a high schooler at the time of these. When I was in high school my parents paid most of my travel expenses to go to a chess tournament in Boston. I still ate food from the vending machines and scrimped on costs. You know why? Because high schoolers don’t tend to have the money to make multiple cross country trips!

In “the real world”, which the NCAA clearly does not exist in, there are good reasons why this behavior might be unacceptable. If an employee has a non-compete clause in their contract. Or if an employee is making decisions on behalf of someone else, accepting gifts is frowned upon. Except, in this case Shabazz was representing himself in the quest to get himself a job (that by the same rules would vastly underpay him)

The simple fact is that the NCAA is exploitative. By not allowing players to be paid (and anyone who argues differently, I advise you to ask to be paid gift certificates only good at certain colleges from now on) the NCAA gets a lot of money for other people. And part of this ruse is keeping up the notion that treating NCAA sports like a job is unethical. After all, when my friend told me Microsoft was paying his way to fly to Seattle and stay in a nice hotel, I didn’t say “How dare you? That’s unethical!” and if a someone applies for multiple jobs and goes on multiple job interviews, no one bats an eye. It’s only in the crazy world of the NCAA where these behaviors are cast as wrong.

Because Shabazz interviewed at two schools he didn’t end up playing for, he is now not allowed to play for the school he did end up playing for. And in no industry but college sports would this make any sense. I accept these are the rules. What I am hoping is that we can stop acting as if this has any thing to do with ethics.


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